Pray Without Ceasing

Hi there!

Today I added the following excerpt as an ‘update’ to my Categories/Posts  “Pray On The Potty” and “Dry Prayer And Monkey Chatter”.  The full article from which the excerpt was taken can be found at http://utmost.org/thinking-of-prayer-as-jesus-taught/ . Here goes:

“The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops.

Prayer is not an exercise, it is the life of the saint. Beware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer. “Pray without ceasing…”— maintain the childlike habit of offering up prayer in your heart to God all the time.”

End of excerpt. The “pray without ceasing” quote came from 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Until later,

Fred

The Purpose Of Life

Greetings!

Our time here in this life can often seem very long, but in reality….especially if we glance back over the span of our lives….it is, relatively speaking, as the tiniest of a tiny drop in the oceans of time….even SMALLER!

So, as we put ‘things’ in perspective, as Christians it just makes good sense to utilize this minuscule moment of our existence to the best after we have been called and receive the Holy Spirit.

As followers of Jesus, we are COMMANDED to use our very limited time here to not only “seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) but to be “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and “whatever you do, do ALL things to the glory of God” and “EVERYTHING….in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).

Further, in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, it is boldly stated that “YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN” and that we have been “bought with a price” to glorify God in all that we do.

Now, God and Jesus do not use words lightly nor are these COMMANDS  merely suggestions or  high sounding religious platitudes.

Quite simply, obeying  these COMMANDS are to be our way of life and the basis for ALL our actions during the time we have been allotted on this earth.

Nevertheless, Scriptures repeatedly and plainly show that Christians can and will be like those in Matthew 13:20-22 who allow the ‘things’ of this world  to cause them to fall away, like Demas who “loved the things of this world” (2 Timothy 4:10) and like those who will be withdrawing from the faith “in latter times” (1 Timothy 4:1).

Truly, our PRIMARY ‘job’  in the short time we have here is do ALL we do with the intent of obeying these three  COMMANDS. Although our human occupations and stations in life should be observed and performed to the best of our human ability they nevertheless take a far backseat concerning what is in the center of our heart, our thoughts and our motives. This is why “Practicing The Presence Of God” (please reference the Category by the same title) is so very important and necessary.

UPDATE 09/04/2915: I would like to add this excerpt from Oswald Chambers’  “My Utmost For His Highest” that can be found at http://utmost.org/destined-to-be-holy/ , along with his other 364 daily devotionals. This is an actual fourth command and it goes like this:

“…it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:161 Peter 1:16

We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness. Today we have far too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them. Many of them may be right, noble, and good, and may later be fulfilled, but in the meantime God must cause their importance to us to decrease. The only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy. At all costs, a person must have the right relationship with God.”

End of excerpt.

And, the beautiful kicker in doing this will be for us  to then be able to bear the most HOLY and PRECIOUS “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22….and please reference the Category  “Fruit Of The Spirit”)….not even to mention the expectation  of our future GLORY of  taking on the VERY ESSENCE of Christ Jesus Himself (Philippians 3:21, Colossians 3:4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:14….please also reference the Category “Our Glorious New Bodies”).

And never forget that our Father and our Savior lovingly remember how difficult life can be as a human and we are told that They are “offering to us richly all  things for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17)….those human ‘things’ and experiences that are allowable and used with responsibility that can give us human delight, even if in a temporary manner.

How so BLESSED and FORTUNATE we are to have this as our purpose in life!

I want to add a short excerpt from my reading this morning of Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost For His Highest” (please reference the Category by the same title to obtain all of his entries in this book):

“we must stop using religion as if it were some kind of a lofty lifestyle— we must be spiritually real.”

All the best, in Him.

Fred

Thank You Lord

Greetings!

For some time now, “Thank You Lord” or “Lord God” has been my CONSTANT and CONTINUAL prayer to our Father and our Savior MINUTE by MINUTE (repeating it numerous times each minute when possible) and HOUR by each HOUR.

It has become my version, all wrapped into one, of the ‘approaches’ taken by Brother Lawrence in his “Practicing The Presence Of God” (please reference the Post by this title), the “Jesus Prayer” I came across in “The Way Of A Pilgrim” ( http://desertfathers.webs.com/thewayofthepilgrim.htm ), the writing by the anonymous author of “The Cloud Of Unknowing” ( http://www.catholicspiritualdirection.org/cloudunknowing.pdf ), the writings of William Law and others in an effort to CONSTANTLY and CONTINUALLY have God and Christ Jesus before me….my aid in assisting me to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8).

As Brother Lawrence clearly explained, this kind of dedicated attention to God and Jesus can be difficult at first, but after persistent practice, it becomes a ‘natural’ part of you. Personally, I still have lapses but they are becoming fewer, and in spite of this….IT’S WORKING!!

Of course, I certainly haven’t attained to the ‘mystical’ experiences of Brother Lawrence, Saint Catherine of  Siena and so many others but the slow, evolving progress is obvious to me.

Although I don’t exactly “whistle while I work” quite yet, I have become much more patient and calm with menial tasks, which I used to NEVER look forward to! There is a peaceful acceptance of these chores that I never previously encountered.

More importantly, I am becoming more acquainted with our Father and Jesus in a way I cannot humanly describe. Again, it is by far not of a ‘mystical’ magnitude!

It helps keep me from those vain and useless ‘wandering thoughts’ (please reference the Post by this title) as well as my mind off of myself. This is probably why I am more at peace and contented.

I find my daily Scripture readings/studies to be more ‘alive’. Words take on more essence and meaning than they did before and I contemplate on them more often….it takes me much longer to get through a chapter and I thoroughly enjoy it!

I am quicker to laugh and more overjoyed in my spirit when I see or encounter good stuff; and on the other hand, I am also more deeply touched with sorrow by sad happenings, whether by natural evils, human evil and sin or just plain suffering; I cry easier at both the good and the bad.

This short HEARTFELT prayer repeated so frequently is not some mindless, robotic ‘chant’ or ‘mantra’, but rather, an expression to my Father and Savior that is understood between us to represent and include the following, but not limited to:

“Thank You Lord” or “Lord God” represents God and Christ Jesus for:

1.  Your loving and selfless sacrifice Jesus, not only for us believers but also those of the entire world (1 John 2:2)

2.  Just being there the way You are Father and Christ Jesus

3,  Your unfathomable grace, patience and mercy in Divine Love toward me and the entire world….especially believers

4.   Your calling me and guarding as well as establishing me (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

5.  Being able to be “strong in Him Who is invigorating me – Christ!” (Philippians  4:13)

6.  Filling my every need as well doing infinitely more for believers than we can ask or imagine (Philippians 4:19; Ephesians 3:20)

7.  Always knowing what I need without my even asking (Matthew 6:8)

8.  Humiliating and allowing me to suffer when I do not let You have Your way with me

9.  Allowing me to see that You will bring to a GLORIOUS END from ALL the sin, evil and suffering I am constantly and forever observing in the world  (1 Corinthians 15:28 and the Post “All Creation Will Be Saved”)

10. Your precious gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) which not only is my Comforter/Advocate/Helper but will also lead me into all truth (John 14:26), will guide my every step through the day if I allow it (Romans 8:14), allows me to know the very depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) and the mind of Christ, Himself (1 Corinthians 2:16), is always interceding on my behalf with utterances and pleadings to God I cannot humanly understand (Romans 8:26)….but will also enable me to bear the  Holy fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

11. Preparing an inheritance for all believers that is GLORIOUS and MAGNIFICENT beyond human comprehension and to take on an immortal, incorruptible celestial body (1 Corinthians 15:53) and existence EVEN of the nature of Christ Jesus Himself (Philippians 3:21)

12. Having ALL THINGS work for the good for all believers (Romans 8:28)

And, the list goes on!!!

Please don’t misunderstand me….there will always be times for regular, formal prayer. Likewise, during the day, we can spontaneously thank Them for various  things as they may occur as well ask for help as the need may arise.

It is in between these times that I go to Them with the “Thank You Lord” prayer.

We are fortunate and blessed beyond measure as Christians to ALWAYS be able to thank God and Christ Jesus for ANY and EVERYTHING (1 Thessalonians 5:18)….even that flat tire you have on the way to work when you were running late to begin with (if may have keep you from a nasty accident just up ahead!)!

Our Father and Savior do not allow ANYTHING to touch us that is not for our eventual good (Romans 8:28)….certainly just another reason for us to always and continually say “Thank You Lord”!!

Until later, in Him,

Fred

Fruit Of The Spirit

Greetings!

Our greatest inheritance (‘treasure’….2 Corinthians 4:7) as believers while we are still on this earth is the Holy Spirit and His ‘fruit’ (Galatians 5:22). Let’s take a look at some of the aspects of these.

‘Fruit’ is used to describe the qualities listed in Galatians because they take time to develop, especially to their full potential. Our progress as Christians is described as a growing process in the New Testament.

When we were first called and were given the Holy Spirit in our hearts we obviously did not automatically receive a boatload full of ‘love’, ‘peace’, etc., especially of the quality that is of a superior, ‘Holy’ nature. This will take time and is the growing process already mentioned.. In 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul speaks of how their ‘faith’  “grows exceedingly” (Green’s “Literal Translation Of the HOLY BIBLE” and Rotherham’s)….even our faith has much room to grow.

Each individual believer’s share of her or his ‘fruit’ will depend on at least three endeavors, which is like a ‘nourishing’ of the ‘fruit’ as it grows (just as earthly fruit needs proper ‘nourishment’ as it grows): (1) prayer….BOTH formal and informal….please reference the Posts “Pray on the Potty” and “Practicing The Presence Of God”, (2) heartfelt Bible study (2 Timothy 3:16) and (3) to the degree there is ABSOLUTE SURRENDER to God and Christ Jesus (please reference the Post “Absolute Surrender”).

Number 3 is very important and the Post  “Bible Study Is Good…”If”…”But”…” discusses this. Being ‘lukewarm’ does not cut it with God and Jesus, as indicated in Revelation 3:16. An excellent article on ‘the lukewarm Christian’ can be found at http://chrismarlow.me/2008/06/are-you-a-lukewarm-christian/ .

Even though experiencing the FULL measure of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ will take time, we can nevertheless enjoy lesser degrees of each quality of the ‘fruit’ as it ripens to ‘fullness’. This follows the example used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 telling how he was receiving knowledge by “installments” or in “part” until the ‘fullness’ has come. Likewise with the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, we can receive and enjoy in “part” of the ‘fruit’, in stages, until we finally partake of its ‘fullness’.

However, there are benefits from the Holy Spirit within us that are IMMEDIATE! We can INSTANTLY begin to utilize the power of the Spirit to change our lives for the better. We can INSTANTLY be comforted by the Spirit when the need arises. We can INSTANTLY be led by the Spirit in every aspect of lives. We can INSTANTLY rejoice in what we have received because of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. And, the list goes on.

The ‘fruit of the Spirit’ is as different from its human equivalent as is the Holy Spirit from the human spirit. In other words, it will EXCEED it in QUALITY beyond measure! For instance, consider the ‘peace’ from the Spirit’s ‘fruit’. Philippians 4:7 says this ‘peace’ is “surpassing all understanding”! The ‘love’ of the Spirit’s ‘fruit’ will likewise far EXCEED the quality of human love. This is a HOLY ‘love’, a HOLY peace’, a HOLY ‘joy’, etc. because it is the product of the Holy Spirit.

Notice, as well, that the verse does not say ‘fruits’, but rather, “fruit”. To the degree that we possess one aspect of the “fruit” we will proportionally experience ALL  the other aspects of the “fruit”….they come as a ‘package deal’! For instance, we will not experience Holy “love” to a considerable degree but yet be lacking in Holy “patience”….they will both mature at the same rate.

How blessed we are to have the opportunity to enjoy this ‘fruit’ while we are waiting for the presence of our Lord and Savior and to be glorified with Him (Colossians 3:4).

All the best in Him.

Fred

Christian Thanksgiving vs Worldly Thanksgiving

Hello, there! Yup, it’s that time of year when we humans celebrate Thanksgiving and the reason why we do is definitely a good one. However, this occasion is totally geared toward being thankful only for good, human PHYSICAL blessings, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. Paul even wrote in 1 Timothy 6:17 that God gives us (all humans) “all things RICHLY for our enjoyment”….apart from sin, of course.

However, this celebration is carried out only once a year, although I am sure there are probably some who occasionally acknowledge to themselves in a heartfelt way how blessed they are for what they have in a physical way, and this is good.

Christian Thanksgiving is quite different in a number of ways from worldly Thanksgiving, though. We Christians are to be thankful ALWAYS and for ALL THINGS (Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18)….especially for how we have been blessed SPIRITUALLY (Ephesians 1:3). As we grow in Christ, we find ourselves THANKING God and Christ Jesus more and more  frequently….even hourly.

This means we are thankful during the the bad and the ugly as well as  the good times….it makes no difference!  And, it is the Holy Spirit Who enables us to do this: please reference the Posts on “Suffering” and “God Has Your Back….Sorta”. God and Christ Jesus NEVER, EVER allow ANYTHING to come to us without  a reason, a purpose and for our ultimate benefit and good (Romans 8:28).

So THANKFUL are we to have a God like the Father and our Savior Christ Jesus and we continually give THANKS to Them….in season and out!

Happy Worldly Thanksgiving and especially Christian Thanksgiving!!

Fred

Quench Not The Spirit

Hi, there!

1 Thessalonian 5:19: “Quench not the Spirit.” Strong’s defines the Greek word for quench as ‘to put out’, ‘suppress’ and ‘extinguish’.

The Holy Spirit given to us when we were called and subsequently believed CAN BE a very powerful and active force in our lives, as indicated by the Post “Feel The POWER!!”. As well, we have the ability to bear those wonderful, Holy fruits (literally ‘fruit’) of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Even further, it CAN BE our Comforter/Advocate as shown in John 14:26 and also lead us into “all truth” as promised in John 16:13.

The key operative words here are obviously ‘can be’. The choice is up to us. That is why Paul could tell Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6 to “stir up the gift of God” within himself (Young’s Literal). Paul also told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:14 to “be not careless of the gift in you”.

The ‘flesh’, along with a lack of faith, is shown throughout the Scriptures as being the major factor in prohibiting us from fully and joyfully benefiting  from our reservoir of unimaginable blessings when it wins out over the Spirit (Romans 7:14-25 and others).  At any given moment, we are either serving one or the other.

We are serving the ‘flesh’ when we are engaged in any activities specifically forbidden by God. These not only include the more obvious ones such as lying, stealing, drunkenness, adultery/fornication, etc. but the more subtle ones: gossip, greed, worrying needlessly, being overly attentive to life’s daily chores and functions (Matthew 13:22), thinking vain and useless thoughts….and the list goes on. Individually and collectively, they serve to ‘extinguish’, ‘put out’ and ‘suppress’ the glorious workings of the precious Holy Spirit that resides in our hearts.

On the other hand, when we are disposed to that which is of God and Christ Jesus the Holy Spirit can bless us beyond anything imaginable (Ephesians 3:20-21). Regimented Bible study, church attendance, charitable works and dutiful/obligatory prayer, no matter how often performed, will NOT help much either UNLESS they steer us toward looking to the Father and Jesus on a continual moment by moment basis in all our waking moments. Please reference the Posts “Bible Study Is Good…”IF…”BUT”…” and “Practicing The Presence Of God”.

Not that rewards should be our primary motive is doing God’s will but Hebrews 11:6 does remind us that “to those seeking Him He becomes a rewarder”. Bearing the “fruit of the Spirit” is an AWESOME reward, I would say!

There will obviously still be difficult and trying circumstances but we will be able to find JOY even in these times as Paul did time after time after time in his afflictions and suffferings. Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Later, in Christ.

Fred

Living is Christ….And Dying Gain

Hi, there!  To say Christians who have died are fortunate and blessed above all other humans  because of our expectation in Christ has to be the most universal understatement of all time!!

Paul was so looking forward to his passing on from this life because to him (and to every true believer/Christian) it is “gain” as we access to the presence of Christ Jesus and God the Father when we die. (Philippians 1:21….Rotherham’s).

Again, in 2 Corinthians 5:8 Paul writes: “we have courage, and are well pleased rather to be away from the home of the body, and to be at home with the Lord.”

However, these statements need the clarification that follows.

As brought out in the Post “Death”, the dying of all humans is equivalent to a peaceful sleep. No one, not even believers such as Paul, ascends directly into heaven after dying (John 3:13). But rather, the Post brings out how the Scriptures constantly refer to death as a “sleep”, and it will seem like mere moments (as it is with any good sleep we get as humans) before we awake to be in our consciousness again. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 confirms that those who have “fallen ASLEEP” “shall rise first”!! (Rotherham’s….emphasis mine)

With this renewed consciousness, for the believer, it will seem almost like a mere instant between our demise and our subsequent awakening again to be found in our new, glorious and transfigured Christ-life celestial (heavenly)  bodies….meeting our Savior in the air! (Philippians 3:21, 1 Thessalonians 4:17….Rotherham’s)

Truly, all Christians can joyously look forward to death as a “gain”, as did Paul.

Take care, in Christ,

Fred